TOKYO: Japan is keen to fund two more road projects in Northeast, a priority area for the Modi government both in terms of domestic politics and strategic reasons.
The Japan government, which has pledged ` 67.1 billion to improve roads in the region, is looking at national highways 40 and 55 that provide links to Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Connectivity, however, remains a problem and Japan is helping India bridge that gap. A network of roads linked to waterways has the potential to turn the region into a busy trade route and give it the muchneeded economic push.
“PM Shinzo Abe has expressed Japan’s interest to provide loans for road connectivity in the Northeast …,” a spokesperson for the Japan International Cooperaton Agency (Jica) told HT.
The final funding details are being drawn for the slope protection of the Siliguri-Darjeeling stretch, which is prone to landslides, of national highway (NH) 55. Japan will also lend a hand in improving NH 40 that connects Shillong to Dawki in Meghalaya close to the Bangladesh border.
Bilateral cooperation with Japan in infrastructure projects in the Northeast has been stepped up of late. It also comes at a time when Beijing is pumping in money to boost infrastructure. Soon after Abe’s India visit in December, Jica pledged around ` 7,000 crore for two highways projects in Mizoram and Meghalaya.
A sea route is planned between Kolkata and Sittwe in Myanmar that will help movement of goods. From Sittwe, the waterway will go up to Paletwa in western Myanmar. The second project is the improvement of the Tura-Dalu section of NH 51 in Meghalaya that runs up to the Bangladesh border.
(This correspondent was in Tokyo on a trip sponsored by the Japanese foreign ministry)